Stories about Overseas Pakistanis

Imran Khan wins America

It was a Sunday night and Washington’s large Capital One Arena was packed. But it wasn’t packed for basketball or a music concert; it was 20,000 people who came to listen to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. It was at this moment when on a cultural level, decades of mistrust and bad blood between Pakistan and the United States (US) evaporated. Prior to the formation of Imran’s government, Pakistan’s prime ministers were the kind of people who could only fill large public squares at home by mobilising a network of bribery and patronage. Such politicians could not attract any great ...

Read Full Post

Connecting bridges and spreading the colours of Pakistan to America

When I first invited Karachi-based truck art group ‘Phool Patti’ to my small, New England town, my intentions were clear: to introduce my community to a softer side of Pakistan, which was still unfamiliar to many. However, the ensuing art project also became a liaison between overseas Pakistanis and their native home. Back in early 2017, through an introductory meet up arranged by the US Consulate General Karachi, I met the Phool Patti artists during a visit to Pakistan. I learnt that although Phool Patti is primarily a commercial truck art business, they are also dedicated cultural diplomats of that sort. They ...

Read Full Post

Because what do overseas Pakistanis know about promoting tourism in Pakistan, right?

Recently, I found myself posing for a big fat family photograph at a wedding in Lahore, during which I was duly handed one of those decorative desi prop-style labels to pose with. Instead of the usual titles like ‘Larki walay’ (bride’s family and friends) and ‘Larkay walay’ (groom’s family and friends), can you guess which label I was handed? ‘Bahar walay’ (outsiders). As a child of the Pakistani diaspora residing in the United Kingdom, my life has been divided neatly between Birmingham and Lahore, but neither of these two worlds accept me. However connected I may be, there has always been a sense of ...

Read Full Post

It’s 2019 and PMDC is still struggling with emails, while ‘valuable assets’ lose opportunities

Every year, between 1,000 and 1,500 Pakistani physicians leave the country to pursue their advanced medical training. As a result, there are currently thousands of Pakistani physicians working in the US, UK, Australia and the Middle East.   According to the 2016 Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) census, there are more than 12,000 active-licensed Pakistani physicians working in the US alone, while similar estimates for the UK, ranging around 2,300. To continue their academic pursuits, these physicians are required to attain temporary, and eventually permanent, registration with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). One would expect the process of obtaining ...

Read Full Post

The dilemma for overseas Pakistanis: To invest more, or to return home?

Pakistan is a nation brimming with talent – talent that frequently shines, not just within the country, but on international forums as well. Pakistanis working abroad are rated highly by their employers in comparison to workers from other countries. These overseas Pakistanis are serving the nation in their own capacity, particularly by sending remittances back to Pakistan. One does not really need to wonder why these Pakistanis leave Pakistan. Many go abroad for higher education, seeking new opportunities due to the lack of avenues at home. Unfortunately, many a times, they end up staying for good, for there is no ...

Read Full Post

Ammi ki yaad and the dilemma of localised development in Pakistan

An Eid TVC by Shan Foods touches the lulled-to-sleep chords of millions of hearts beating, otherwise mechanically, in pardes (abroad). “… Ammi ki bohat yaad aa rahi hai bhai… ye bhi koi Eid hoyi bhai?” (I’m missing mom a lot… what kind of an Eid is this?) Although agriculture still remains the single largest localised employer of labour (40 per cent), yet services and industrial sectors have registered an increasing trend of employment over the years. Hence, the burgeoning movement of labour from underdeveloped to relatively developed cities and foreign countries adds to the ever-growing number of pardesis forced to work and live away from their families. Similarly, a ...

Read Full Post

Why didn’t the Pakistan embassy stand up for Assim Abbasi?

In 2004, I travelled to Belgium to visit my uncle who was residing and doing business there. I found the people to be very welcoming, the architecture was outstanding and, of course, the world-famous chocolate was delectable. So when news emerged this week of a Pakistani, Assim Abbasi, residing in Belgium being wrongfully identified as a crazed, fundamentalist gunman, when in fact, he was holding a cricket bat, sent out alarm and disbelief.  Understandably, emotions are running high following the attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels but the fact that the Belgian police and media failed to make the necessary checks meant an innocent ...

Read Full Post

Is Sea View a dangerous place?

Relieved to finally be done with our university exams, Asad, my best friend from university, suggested he and I decided visit Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine during our vacations. Since I had plenty of time to spare, I agreed and the two of us decided to go on Saturday early in the morning to avoid any rush. At 8am on Saturday, Asad came over and together we left, on my motorbike, for the shrine. After offering our fateha, we realised thatit was still relatively early and we didn’t have anything is specific planned out. S on our way down the stairs of ...

Read Full Post

A Pakistan for all seasons: Views of a Pakistani abroad

With each passing summer, I become increasingly weary upon hearing the same tired question, “But, are you sure you want to go back this year?” Whether the inquiry is presented by my father, a close friend, or even a concerned relative in Karachi, repetition has made it a mainstay in the uneasy arsenal of those who would oppose my annual visits to Pakistan. Do not misunderstand me – I understand their concern, one grounded in the unpredictable and often hostile socio-political climate of the nation. With the national and expatriate rumour mills alike saturated with horror stories about riots, home invasions, roadside robberies and ...

Read Full Post

To survive at NADRA you must (not) obey the law?

NICOP and Smart NICOP facilities were started by NADRA in an attempt to assist overseas Pakistanis who send a considerable amount of their income to Pakistan and invest in the country despite the deplorable situation here. Here is the sad story of my pursuit to get this card.  My first attempt:  On October 20, 2013, I made my first attempt to acquire the Nicop. For that, I went to the Nadra office at Deans Trade Centre in Peshawar. After having spent two hours waiting in the queue at the token counter, I was told by the officer that the Nadra Dean Centre office did not accommodate applications for the ...

Read Full Post